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We are used to seeing these engines in bread and butter cars, but that isn't all they are good for. Here are some of the most powerful four-pots you can buy.

18 Jul 2022

For the longest time, four-cylinder engines are what you'll find underneath the bonnet of most cars. Its compact size makes it possible to be fit all sorts of body types and mated with any drivetrain layout. The tiny Mini Cooper was the first mainstream front-wheel drive car that used a transaxle and it had an in-line four-cylinder engine. And yet, you can also find such engines situated behind the driver, powering sporty two-door cars such as the Toyota MR2!

Throughout the years, there has been plenty of performance oriented four-cylinder engines, one of which being the famous Honda K20A engine found in the Civic FD2 Type R that produces 221bhp! Today, manufacturers have been able to wring out even more power from these powerplants. Here are five cars that you can walk into the showroom to purchase today, which have 300bhp or more from a four-cylinder engine!

Porsche 718 Cayman/Boxster - 2.0-litre, 300bhp

With forced-induction, the 2.0-litre engine in the 718 makes more power than its predecessor's 2.7-litre engine
While some Porsche purists might be quick to dismiss the 718 Cayman and its drop-top counterpart, the Boxster as the cheap man's 911, it certainly isn't one. Unlike the 911 which has its engine placed all the way at its rear end, the 718 has a rear-midship engine position.

This is theoretically one of the best engine placements when it comes to performance cars due to its excellent balance, with a slight bias towards the rear, placing weight over the powered wheels - yes, the 718 is a true-blue rear-wheel driven sports car indeed.

With 300bhp on tap, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine actually makes more power in the current generation of the 718 than its previous iteration which had a larger 2.7-litre naturally-aspirated flat-six engine!

Audi S3 Sportback/Sedan - 2.0-litre, 306bhp

Discreet enough to pass off as a regular A3, the stout inline-four engine of the S3 produces upwards of 300bhp!
While the Audi RS3 has always been the special one, with its 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine, the S3 really shouldn't be slighted. While the S3 is tamer, and maybe even ever so slightly more mature than the RS3, it still packs a pretty impressive 306bhp output from a potent 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

On the outside, the S3 is discreet enough to pass off as a regular A3, and yet it is different enough to make those that know better take a second glance. The bumpers gives off an air of aggression while at the rear end, those quad exhaust pipe would surely give a less discreet hint at its performance.

Cupra Leon Sportstourer - 2.0-litre, 306bhp

Coupled with all-wheel drive, the Cupra Leon Sportstourer is able to effectively put down all 306bhp
With Cupra being a part of the Volkswagen Audi Group, the Leon Sportstourer actually has the same engine as the S3 above. In fact, this same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine can be found in many different cars across the various brands under the group, in different states of tune producing 200+bhp to 300+bhp.This shows the versatility and potential of a well-designed four-cylinder engine.

The Cupra Leon Sportstourer is a really handsome wagon that offers a great mix of performance and practicality. With all-wheel drive to ensure traction, it is able to complete the century sprint in a mere 4.9 seconds - that's almost a second quicker than the hatch! Of course, being a wagon, there's the easily accessible and massive boot space that stands at 620-litres as well.

Honda Civic Type R - 2.0-litre, 315bhp

The K20A was one hell of a machine, but now, with the addition of a turbocharger, the K20C makes almost 100bhp more
The famed K20A from the Civic FD2 Type R produced 221bhp, and it was naturally aspirated. Aftermarket tuners around the world have actually managed to almost double the power output with the addition of a turbocharger. Naturally, that was the direction that Honda went with when it came up with its successor.

Honda introduced the turbocharged K20C (an evolution of the K20A) in the FK2 Civic Type R, which was the first turbocharged Type R and produced 306bhp in this form. Then came the FK8 Civic Type R, which is currently still available brand new, packing 315bhp. Now, in line with the past Honda Type R cars, this new Type R packs all sorts of fancy tech that places performance in top priority. Just how potent is it? Well, when it was first released, it set a new record for front-wheel drive cars on the Nurburgring Nordschleife - a 7:43.80.

Mercedes-AMG CLA45 S/A45 S - 2.0-litre, 416bhp

The M139 is the world's most powerful four-cylinder engine in serial production!
Now, we have reached the end of the list with the most powerful four-cylinder engine cars that you can buy right now - the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 S and the A45 S. The M139 engine that you can find in these cars produces 416bhp from a mere 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. If you are thinking that it sounds like plenty, you would be right. In fact, this engine is the world's most powerful four-cylinder engine in serial production, producing 208bhp per litre!

Since the introduction of the first A45 S, these cars were widely regarded as a really hot hatch that can keep up and even shame other much sportier, purpose built sports cars. Of course, should you prefer a sedan, there's also the stylish CLA45 S that you can go for. The current A45 S is able to complete the century sprint in just 3.9 seconds, and it continues on to reach a top speed of 270km/h. Who says you need a large engine to go fast?

Looking for other fun and fast cars? Check out these other articles that might interest you

Seven hard to find car models that enthusiasts like
Here are several sports cars that can double up as daily drivers
Who says sports cars are unattainable? You can probably get one of these in Singapore right now
Top 10 cars under 1.6-litre that are ridiculously fun to drive in Singapore
Want something more than 300bhp, but not these? Well, check out all the other new cars packing such power here!

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